Muffins and Miracles: Church Service in the Real World, by Linda Hoffman Kimball – A Book Review

Some questions for you to think about during this review: Has there been a book that has helped you with you with a difficult calling, or service endeavour, or the way that you looked at Church service? Has there been a book that you wished you had years ago?

At age 21, less than a year after being baptised, I was called to be the Second Counselor in my ward’s Relief Society – specifically, the (newly renamed) Home, Family and Personal Enrichment Counsellor. I thought my bishop had lost his mind, a contagion no doubt caught from the incoming Relief Society’s President’s insanity/inspiration to call me as her counselor.

“Um, you do know I work full-time, right?” I checked repeatedly in the interview. “You know my son’s in day-care, I have a non-member husband, I don’t quilt, or scrapbook, or… or CRAFT in any way?”

Bishop just smiled, chuckled and reassured me that the Lord definitely wanted me in this calling. I sighed, reminded myself I believed in inspiration, accepted, and then asked for the manual to go with this specific calling.

“There isn’t one.” He shrugged. “You just pray about and for your sisters, and do what seems right.”

Fifteen years later and halfway through Linda Hoffman Kimball’s Muffins & Miracles introduction, I said out loud “I needed this book then.” Twenty pages later I had highlighted two paragraphs, flagged a page for future discussion with a friend, and had told the dog “I really needed this book back then!” so often she’d left the room to snooze uninterrupted somewhere else.

The more I read through Muffins & Miracles, the more I became excited and delighted. (I also laughed hard enough to give myself hiccups, and cried in three different sections, just to provide balance and further honesty for this review).  I’ve wanted this book for at least as long as I’ve been a member of the gospel: for inspiration, for encouragement, for example and for empathy’s sake. There are quotes from Church leaders (female and male) woven in and around the personal accounts and experiences of women living the gospel. Muffins & Miracles is women hoping and struggling and stubbornly trying to live the gospel in their lives, in their callings and in serving others, sharing their stories and not sugar coating a blessed, familiar thing.

In part of her Introduction, Linda Hoffman Kimball writes:

If you want to get a sense of what leadership and service look and feel like to a cross section of Mormon women, read on. This volume, Muffins & Miracles: Church Service in the Real World, offers you the voices of women who are in the thick of real world service and leadership in the Church. Women across a broad spectrum of LDS perspectives share their thoughts, experiences, in-depth explorations, pithy bits of wisdom, high-lights, and a few “lowlights” on the topics of women’s leadership and service in the Church. These varied voices share honest stories of dedication and perseverance, innovation, and quiet (or not-so-quiet) heroism. Their words reflect joys and struggles along the journey as well as descriptions of what goodness looks like. Each piece has its own nugget of wisdom; collectively they reveal much about Latter-Day Saint women in today’s world”.

Muffins & Miracles: Church Service in the Real World is about detailing the sweetness, the unexpected and real world crunchy bits that come with church service. Linda Hoffman Kimball has created something surprising and extraordinary in compiling these stories, gathering glimpses into the sweat and tears and heart aches of our sisters in the gospel, and encouraging us all to serve in our own ways. The stories do not all have happy endings, or neat solutions, but are all the stronger for faithfully sharing the stresses and ordinary reality of service and discipleship within the gospel.

The service and stories in Muffins & Miracles: Church Service in the Real World vary in depth, style, length and emotional impact – quite like the service requested of us during our lives. I wish that I had Muffins & Miracles for my own comfort and encouragement fifteen years ago, but am even more pleased to have it now for reflection, consideration, and sharing with the wonderful women I have met – and served with – in the years since. That this is only one of three (currently) in Linda’s Real World series only makes me hungry to read more.

Title: Muffins & Miracles: Church Service in the Real World

Genre: Non-Fiction

Compiled By: Linda Hoffman Kimball

Format: Available in hardcopy, ebook variations and Kindle (a free preview is available at Linda’s website)

Website: http://www.muffinsandmiracles.com/

Note: My copy of Muffins & Miracles: Church Service in the Real World was given free to me by Linda for review purposes.

About Kellie

(Blog Team) lives way on the other side of the planet in her native Australia and gives thanks for the internet regularly. She loves books, her boys, panna cotta, collecting words, being a redhead and not putting things in order of importance when listing items. She credits writing at selwynssanity.blogspot.com as a major contributing factor to surviving her life with sanity mostly intact, though her (in)sanity level is subject to change without warning.

3 thoughts on “Muffins and Miracles: Church Service in the Real World, by Linda Hoffman Kimball – A Book Review

  1. Our stake president recommended “Counceling With Our Councils” shortly before I was called as a RS president. I really really really wish I’d had it when I was a primary president. Back then, every ward council was a litany of 3 minute reports from each organization with very little discussion or decision making. And I just went along with it because I didn’t know better. Elder Ballard’s book gave me the courage to make sure I voiced the inspiration I received, and participated as a full council member in all decisions when I was an auxiliary president again. It was a MUCH better experience. I left ward councils feeling like I’d shared the RS perspective and my own as I was supposed to, and that I’d collaborated with other ward leadership in productive and inspired processes. So much fun!

  2. I will admit that I judged this book (negatively) by its title when I first came across it, but when I opened it to a random page, I was so impressed with what I found that I ended up reading it cover to cover.

    I haven’t read any of the other books that Linda Hoffman Kimball edited, but now I really want to.

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